So there I was, riding my moped through the Vietnamese countryside, watching women in conical hats work the patties as we cruised towards the beautiful white sands of the coast. Okay, no worries, you don’t have to hate me. The real story is that I was perusing the Sunday paper and stumbled upon a curious recipe for a sandwich I’d never heard of. Take one bite of this Banh Mi sandwich and you’ll be transported to another world. Banh Mi sandwiches are a staple in Vietnam and it isn’t hard to see why. I like to call it “adventure in a bun.” But don’t get scared. Just stay with me. The ingredients are all familiar, just a novel combination.
What You Need to Make a Banh Mi Sandwich at Home
I may have lost some of you already but if you can get past this part I know you’re through to the end. Here are the three ingredients you’ll be adding to your collection. You’ll find them all on the top shelf of the Asian/International section for your grocery store. Even Wal-mart has them, so no excuses. Sriracha sauce (the one with the rooster), sweet red chili sauce (the key ingredient in my opinion), and seasoned rice vinegar (expendable– substitute another vinegar and we can still be friends).
Baguettes are very important. Try to find one with a hard outer shell and a soft inside. Think French bakery and you’ll be fine.
Vinegar is a great low-cal way to knock up the flavor of any dish. In this sandwich, we’re making a quick pickle for the cucumbers and carrots. Equal parts of sugar and vinegar plus a dash of salt. Dissolve and add veggies. Let them marinate for an hour or so.
I like to use a rotisserie chicken because of the flavor and ease. I serve the bread with the mayo and chicken on top. Then I’ll let my guests add their own sauce, veggies, and herbs.
Start piling on the toppings: pickled cucumber and carrots, cilantro and mint (please, I beg you, don’t skip the mint!), lettuce, sweet chili sauce and sriracha for the kick.
Don’t be bashful. Sweet chili sauce packs a serious flavor punch, so load up! Now the Sriracha… you can be much more conservative with that one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It has the ability to blow your socks off.
Oh… yeah…. bite marks on your computer screen are NOT my fault. Make sure you let me know if you try the real thing, especially if you test any new variations.
- 2 baguettes, split
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1 rotisserie chicken, sliced
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- Mint and cilantro leaves
- Sriracha sauce
- Sweet red chili sauce
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- Do ahead: Combine vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved.
- Add to cucumber and carrots. Set aside.
- To make the sandwich, spread both sides of the baguette with mayonnaise.
- Arrange chicken over the bottom halves.
- Add lettuce, herbs, and cucumber-carrot mixture.
- Drizzle with the sauces.
- Add top halves and serve with lots of napkins.
Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe
2 baguettes, split
1/4 cup mayo
1 rotisserie chicken, sliced
1 English cucumber, peeled and thickly sliced
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
Mint and cilantro leaves
Sweet red chili sauce
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Do ahead: Combine vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved. Add to cucumber and carrots. Set aside. To make the sandwich, spread both sides of the baguette with mayonnaise. Arrange chicken over the bottom halves. Add lettuce, herbs, and cucumber-carrot mixture. Drizzle with the sauces. Add top halves and serve with lots of napkins. Serves 4.